Does Air-Dry Clay Go Bad?

Air Dry Clay

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When talking about art & craft, we automatically shift our mindset to images of colored paintings, crayons, paint brushes, and more. However, the real deal today in the artistic world is clay sculpting. While traditional clay might be ideal for expert crafters, most beginners start their journey with air-dry clay.


But, does air-dry clay go bad?


Well, today, we will answer this question for all those beginner crafters and artisans that hate to see their hard work wasted.


Is Air-dry Clay a Permanent Crafting Option?

Truth be told, no clay holds permanence. Most of the clay variants available in the market are either oil-based or water-based and require some time to dry up completely. In comparison, air-dry clay is a bit better as it takes up a shorter time frame to harden. On the other hand, some clay variants might take days or even months to harden, while some parts fall off due to improper hardening sequence.


Sealing the Air-Dry Clay

Your air-dry clay can go bad, or its durability might be affected if you fail to seal it properly. Just like any other clay, air-dry clay must be sealed off-post crafting to ensure that it lasts for years. You can seal your air-dry clay using ModPodge or acrylic sealant that can also double up as a coloring medium for your project. For the sealing purpose, you can make use of the ModPodge CS11302. This waterbase-sealer features a matte finish.


It is highly recommended that you leave your air-dry clay to dry post sealing for a minimum of 72 hours.


Does Air-Dry Clay Expire?

First things first, if your air-dry clay is in its original packet and hasn’t been opened yet, it could still go bad. This majorly depends on the way you store the clay. If you happen to seal the clay within an air-tight Ziploc bag, it could last for years without hardening or going bad.


Alternatively, you can also keep it within a properly sealed container placed in a dry and cool place.


Can Air-Dry Clay Become Moldy?

Yes, air-dry clay surely can become moldy. Truth be told, your air-dry clay will always have a certain amount of camouflaged mold within whether it is an older package or a new one. Now, we all know that air-dry clay has a good amount of moisture within itself. Plus, mold needs moisture to thrive, and when kept aside for long, these mold spores tend to spread throughout the air-dry clay.


With time, this mold spread becomes prominent and visible. When this happens, you must avoid any type of skin contact. Now, do not be alarmed!

Even if your air-dry clay contains a certain amount of mold within, it is not at all dangerous. In fact, this air-dry clay mold makes it rather workable. It tends to take years up until a properly sealed pack destroys the air-dry clay to a point with no return. Most air-dry clay can last about 3 to 5 years with no signs of drying or molding.


However, once you see visible signs of molding on your air-dry clay in the form of yellowish or black sports, it is better not to touch it at all. If possible, you can just cut off the moldy part and use up the rest as soon as possible. The only way to prolong your air-dry clay’s usability is by storing it properly. But, be warned that your clay would surely succumb to moldy growth after some years or maybe dry out before being moldy.


Can You Make Use of Air-Dry Clay With Mold?

Now, when looking for the answers to the usability of moldy air-dry clay, there isn’t a definitive response to this. As we learned earlier, air-dry clay has a small amount of pre-existing mold within it even when it is completely fresh.


So, it is obvious that you can use air-dry clay with mold. However, if you happen to see that the infestation has spread far and wide all over the piece, it is better to refrain from touching it. There are certain mold variants that might not be harmful in a small amount. However, in larger numbers, it could have a potentially disastrous effect on your health.


This is especially true if you happen to suffer from issues such as skin allergies or lung problems such as asthma. So, to sum it up, you can use air-dry clay only if the moldy part is a tiny one. A green mold is totally fine to touch but should better be avoided just in case you have allergies.


On the other hand, mold that tends to look strong yellow or black in color must be avoided at all costs. It could be poisonous to you or affect your respiratory health.


If you plan to save your slightly moldy air-dry clay, you can mix in some water along with some drops of liquid bleach. Pour this mixture onto the moldy clay and wait for the magic to happen.


Here are some ways to get rid of mold on your air-dry clay:


How to Use?

Bleach Mix 5-10-drops of liquid bleach with water and spray the solution on the clay.
Hydrogen Peroxide Use food-grade hydrogen peroxide on moldy clay.
Vinegar Use direct vinegar on moldy clay. Allow the clay to sit overnight to allow the mold to die out.
Dettol Dettol is ideal for getting rid of both the smell and the mold at the same time. A few dabs of Dettol liquid can get rid of the mold within a few hours.
Epsom Salt Add some Epsom salt in warm water and cool the solution. Next, pour this solution on the moldy clay to get rid of the same.



When does the air-dry clay smell bad?

Once the mold has started to take over the air-dry clay, it would only take a few weeks for it to start smelling bad. Your clay smells bad due to the fact that there is bacterial growth over it, along with mold growth eating away at the clay. Now, this doesn’t actually affect your clay in a negative way. Rather, it helps you sculpt better. However, the smell might take over if the mold has spread all around.

If the smell is way too bad, it is better to throw away the moldy clay!



So, the next time you bring over air-dry clay, you should test it out before purchasing so that you get only the fresh ones for your project. Simply press your finger on the clay packet and watch if it is easy to press down on. A fresh packet would be soft and smooth. Always look for the expiry date before purchasing the air-dry clay and opt for the ones that have the farthest expiry!

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